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10 Books to Read in 2012: Dust and Shadows, by Lyndsay Faye - Light One Candle

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April 21st, 2012


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03:40 pm - 10 Books to Read in 2012: Dust and Shadows, by Lyndsay Faye
At the beginning of this year, I made a list of ten books I wanted to be sure to read in 2012. I said I would try to review each of them for you guys. Well, I'm slightly behind, but since I'm not quite done with numbers 2 and 3 of the list, I thought I'd go ahead and review the first one I read.


Dust and Shadows is a Sherlock Holmes novel, but with a specific and appropriate historical twist: what if Holmes (and Watson) had investigated the Ripper killings?

If that idea kindles your imagination, this is a book you'll really enjoy. I'm not someone who has read much about Jack the Ripper, so that wasn't a specific draw, but I do love stories that take a character and put them in a specific historical context. Faye has absolutely done her research; the historical milieu is completely immersive, down to the sorts of details one doesn't normally think about in our age, but which would have been absolutely commonplace at the time.

The most striking thing I noticed was that Faye takes into account how recent forensic psychology is; we take for granted in shows like CSI that there are ways to deduce even the motivations of a psychopath. But Holmes has no such resources... and what he does uncover to help him is in its bare infancy.

Both Sherlock and Watson are gloriously themselves, facing a foe that defies human understanding, and yet persevering. The plot itself is tense and at points so horrifying that I had to put the book down for a while. If you like Holmes, or the Holmes and Watson partnership, and enjoy a well-crafted historical thriller, you should pick up Dust and Shadows.

Current Mood: pleasedpleased

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Comments:


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From:rabidsamfan
Date:April 21st, 2012 11:03 pm (UTC)
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Hooray! That's one of my favorite Holmes pastiches ever and I've read lots of them. As a matter of fact it tends to stay in the 'comfort' stack of books by my bed so I can pick it up and reread bits when I can't sleep.
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From:persephone_kore
Date:April 22nd, 2012 12:23 am (UTC)
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This is a really interesting juxtaposition with "at points so horrifying that I had to put the book down for a while."
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From:rabidsamfan
Date:April 22nd, 2012 12:40 am (UTC)
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Well, I'm not rereading the bits about what the Ripper did to his victims... It probably helped that there have been other Holmes vs. the Ripper pastiches and at least two films, so I kind of already knew the worst and could elide past it as I went along.

But Faye did a fantastic job with Watson and Holmes, and that I thoroughly appreciate. It's also one of the most logical "solutions" to the Ripper murders I've encountered. So that makes a big difference.
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From:persephone_kore
Date:April 22nd, 2012 01:28 am (UTC)
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*grin* I kind of figured it was different parts, but it was still an interesting combination.
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From:izhilzha
Date:April 22nd, 2012 02:39 am (UTC)
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That's pretty much what my first thought was. :) But there are some lovely bits with Holmes and Watson, and some of the supporting characters are fantastic.
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From:nun_sense
Date:April 22nd, 2012 01:15 am (UTC)
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Wow....beautifully written review, but I doubt I will read the book. The fact that you said you had to put it down a few times because of how graphic it was.....well....I decided some time ago that I don't need to look for stuff that will either gross me out or scare the wits out of me. Life sometimes does that all on its own!
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From:izhilzha
Date:April 22nd, 2012 02:41 am (UTC)
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Yes, this would not be everyone's cup of tea. :) I'm sometimes willing to deal with such graphic details if it's imperative to the story being told, but I certainly understand not wanting to bother.
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From:aurora_novarum
Date:April 22nd, 2012 01:33 am (UTC)
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Oh, thanks for the rec. I'll see if I can find it!
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From:izhilzha
Date:April 22nd, 2012 02:41 am (UTC)
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I enjoyed it a lot.
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From:aurora_novarum
Date:April 22nd, 2012 02:40 pm (UTC)
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It's not with my local library, but is in the state system so I ordered it that way.
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From:jhall1
Date:April 22nd, 2012 09:08 am (UTC)
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"Dust and Shadows: An Account of the Ripper Killings by Dr. John H. Watson, by Lyndsay Faye"

My first thought was that the idea that Dr. Watson committed the Ripper killings was a novel one. It might have been better had the subtitle been "An Account by Dr. John H. Watson of the Ripper Killings". Pendantry is one of my main hobbies. :)

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